Arda AKGÜL – Analysis
Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany/AfD) is a right-wing populist party that was founded in 2013 in Germany. As a right-wing party, AfD is known for its anti-immigration approach and skeptical politics towards the European Union. However, AfD does not have problem with democracy. AfD is located itself in top political parties as gained about 20 percent of votes. AfD has become top party in Saxony, an Eastern state, in 2021 German federal elections.
Why AfD is popular
AfD has been getting popular since people migrated to Germany. People who embrace anti-immigration, German nationalism and scepticism on European Union can be included as AfD voters. As AfD gets popular, its significance has been rising. Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is known as its pro-European approach, therefore AfD emerged for antithesis to this approach.
A poll adjusted by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in November 2023 states that AfD voters have least belief in European Union when it comes to “peace”, and they struggle to make connection between European Union and “peace”. It remains to be seen same when “security”, “prosperity”, “climate change” and other matters to be mentioned. Thus, it is easy to say that AfD, its policies and voters do not get along well with European Union.
This growing issue between AfD and the European Union suggests a deepened ideological difference, where AfD’s objective and EU’s one do not get along well. As AfD continues to gain momentum, its adversarial stance toward the European Union could further complicate Germany’s relationship with the EU and shape the direction of European politics in the years to come. However, when there is a rising global problem, it is expected that people come together.
AfD is a popular party in Germany because it offers a far-right alternative to the mainstream parties such as CDU (Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands / Christian Democratic Union of Germany) and SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands / Social Democratic Party of Germany) and the government on key issues such as immigration and climate. It appreciates many voters who may not feel connected to the current political system and the direction of the country. However, AfD also faces criticism and controversy for its extremist, nationalist, and populist values and agenda, which are considered to be dangerous, and undemocratic. Therefore, the future of AfD and its impact on German politics and society remains to be seen.
However, AfD also faces criticism for its extremist, nationalist, and populist rhetoric and agenda, which many consider to be differentiated, would-be dangerous, and undemocratic. Therefore, the future of AfD and its impact on German politics and society remains to be seen. Moreover, the rise of AfD has caused considerable concern among political analysts and policymakers, both domestically and globally. Its anti-immigration approach, coupled with its skepticism towards the European Union, has raised questions about the direction in which German politics is heading. The increasing support for AfD suggests a growing disorientation among certain topics of the population, which could have significant implications for social problems and instability.
Counter to rise of AfD, political parties such as the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have faced pressure to solve or at least think about the concerns that are issued and considered by AfD’s supporters while preserving their own principles and values. This balancing act creates a challenge for these parties, as they seek to remain responsive to the AfD supporters’ subjects without clashing their core values. Furthermore, the impact of AfD goes beyond domestic politics, as its positions on immigration, nationalism, and the European Union have made decisions for Germany’s role in the European Union and its relationships with countries that may be important in order to their energy sources, or their domestic problems such as civil war or political unstability. The rise of nationalist parties around the World fuels tensions, leading to debates over issues such as immigration, sovereignty over the European Union or other international associations like making decisions that are not common or shared by European Union, NATO, UN or other countries, and the future of them.
The rise of AfD represents a significant development in German and European politics, with far-reaching implications for democracy, governance, and international relations. While AfD’s popularity may reflect significant issues and concerns among certain problems of the population, its extremist rhetoric and divisive agenda pose a challenge to the values of tolerance, inclusivity, and cooperation that underpin the European project. As Germany and the European Union try to navigate these issues, the role of AfD and its impact on the political landscape will continue to be a subject of and debates on politics and future of the Germany and the European Union
The AfD’s program states a way of conservatism and nationalism. While some view it as a necessary counterbalance to mainstream politics, others criticize its positions. Regardless, the AfD’s approach has reshaped the German political landscape and rised debates about identity, sovereignty, and the future of Germany, as well as Europe and European Union.
AfD’s approach on policy of immigration especially from the Africa is that Africans should not migrate to Germany due to capability of migration on destabilizing Germany and Europe. They are also against on labor migration, partly because of their load to social systems. Immigration also brings some liabilities like dual citizenship and family reunion, therefore AfD is also not in favor of them, at least AfD wants them to be limited to very narrowed criterias. It is easy to say that AfD’s plan is getting tougher as they gain popularity.
Energy, environment, climate
AfD believes that the federal government applies rules based on unproven theories. Also, AfD states that acts on renewable energy generate a massive amount of additional cost, therefore maintaining these rules without replacing is the solution, and it could protect homeowners and tenants from unaffordable prices. Additionally, if acts like EEG (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz/Renewable Energy Act) will be removed, nuclear energy will be maintained for a few years, and state’s priority will be bioenergy. These are what AfD propose if they get the power.
When looking at AfD’s programme, it is to be seen that economy would be expanded by not maintaining today’s European values like carbon zero policies. Beside removing these rules’ effect on the Germany, Europe and the World in order to environment issues such as fueling global warming, they also offer lifting subsidies on migration problems and so on.
Skepticism on European Union
On January 23rd, 2024, co-leader Alice Weidel has proposed to hold a referendum on European Union in Germany, to decide whether to be part of European Union or to exit European Union through a model like Brexit. As it is stated in the party programme, AfD is not against to leave European Union if AfD’s core values are not implemented by the existing European Union system. Dissolution of the European Union and re-establishment of a European Economic Community may be part of the plan too.
AfD has been a safe place for people who are not satisfied by current immigration policy of German government. AfD voters’ prioritized issues are immigration/migration policy, energy and environment and climate policy, and economy, respectively. Immigration has been increasing since 2013, and inflation rates are going up in Germany (2013 = 1.4%, 2023 = 5.9%), it is not an unexpected outcome when AfD is getting popular.
That right wing’s known characters made a plan on deporting “unassimilated citizens” to Northern Africa has triggered people. In this meeting, AfD politicians, CDU’s right-wing supporters and other people came together, and remigration when AfD becomes power party in Germany was main subject of the meeting.
This made people triggered in all around Germany, therefore more than 250.000+ people took off the streets to criticize this plan. People chanted slogans that defend democracy, anti-hate and some references to Germany’s Nazi era to not repeat it again. These were protests against “remigration vision”. Protesters, German politicians and some voters express their opinion in favor of banning the AfD, which is known to be anti-foreign and anti-Muslim.
Important topics for AfD voters Germany 2023 | Statista. (2023, June 28). https://www.statista.com/statistics/1394626/important-topics-afd-voters-germany/
Inflation rate in Germany 1992-2023 | Statista. (2024, January 25). https://www.statista.com/statistics/262859/inflation-rate-in-germany-changes-of-the-cpi-compared-to-the-previous-year/
Mass weekend protests across Germany to denounce far right AFD Party. euronews. (2024, January 20). https://www.euronews.com/2024/01/20/mass-weekend-protests-across-germany-to-denounce-far-right-afd-party
Neu, V. (2023, November). Die europafreundlichen Deutschen. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. https://www.kas.de/documents/252038/22161843/Die+europafreundlichen+Deutschen.pdf/7a2f2e90-5a4a-0dca-92cb-3b4e4b65c43c?version=1.0&t=1698923371567
Neubert, K. (2024, January 15). German government urged to tighten asylum policy as AfD grows in popularity. Euractiv. https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/german-government-urged-to-tighten-asylum-policy-as-afd-grows-in-popularity/
Programm der Alternative für Deutschland Kurzfassung. Alternative für Deutschland. (2016, April 30). https://www.afd.de/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/2016-06-20_afd-kurzfassung_grundsatzprogramm_webversion_k.pdf
What’s German far-right’s deportation plan that has triggered protests? Germany far-right’s deportation plan that has triggered protests. TRT WORLD. (2024, January 24). https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/whats-german-far-rights-deportation-plan-that-has-triggered-protests-16762281